Saturday, May 31, 2014

THE INSPIRATION OF SPIRITUAL INITIATIVE


 Ephesians 5:14    Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.  


            All initiative is not inspired. A man may say to you – “Buck up, take your disinclination by the throat, throw it overboard, and walk out into the thing!” That is ordinary human initiative. But when the Spirit of God comes in and says, in effect, “Buck up,” we find that the initiative is inspired.

            We all have any number of visions and ideas when we are young, but sooner or later we find that we have no power to make them real. We cannot do the things we long to do, and we are apt to settle down to the visions and ideas as dead, and God has to come and say – “Rise from the dead.”

When the inspiration of God does come, it comes with such miraculous power that we are able to arise from the dead and do the impossible thing. The remarkable thing about spiritual initiative is that the life comes after we do the “bucking up.” God does not give us overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome. When the inspiration of God comes,  and He says – “Rise from the dead,” we have to get up; God does not lift us up. Our Lord said to the man with the withered hand – “Stretch out your hand,” and as soon as the man did so, his hand was healed, but he had to take the initiative. If we will do the overcoming, we will find we are inspired of God because He gives life immediately.

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, February 16.

Friday, May 30, 2014

NO PAIN, NO GAIN



1 Peter 4:1-2    Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.


            Of what avail is our life of prayer, our study of Scripture, theology and spirituality, if we do not trust the insights that we have received? Waffling back and forth between a decisive yes and a discouraging no keeps us in a state of terminal procrastination. Likewise, an exvlusive emphasis on the burning theological issues of the day (many of which are neither burning nor theological) or a one-sided emphasis on the pressing issues of social justice can temporarily or even permanently postpone a decision to trust in the love of God, thus keeping us in a state of spiritual limbo.

            “To live without risk is to risk not living”, my paternal grandma used to say. The way of trust is risky business, no doubt about it. To change careers suddenly because one feels unfulfilled, to assume the energy-depleting care of elderly parents, to retreat for three days of silence and solitude with Jesus or to volunteer for a summer in the sub-Sahara – all these challenges require a willingness to risk a journey into the unknown and a readiness to trust God even in the darkness.

            A person should not act impulsively, of course. A careful discernment process involving family, friends and a spiritual mentor should precede every major decision. But when the appropriate time comes, only the disciple with an unflinching trust in God will dare to risk. And that trust is not na├»ve. It knows that the possibility of making a mistake and getting hurt is very real. But without exposure to potential failure, there is no risk.



Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God, by Brennan Manning, pg. 20-21

Thursday, May 29, 2014

OUR REAL MOTIVES


John 13:36-38    Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three time!”


            One day Jesus said to his disciples: “I’d like you to carry a stone for Me.” He didn’t give any explanation. So the disciples looked around for a stone to carry, and Peter, being the practical sort, sought out the smallest stone he could possibly find. After all, Jesus didn’t give any regulations for weight and size! So he put it in his pocket. Jesus then said: “Follow Me.”

            He led them on a journey. About noontime Jesus had everyone sit down. He waved his hands and all the stones turned to bread. He said, “Now it’s time for lunch.” In a few seconds, Peter’s lunch was over. When lunch was done Jesus told them to stand up. He said again, “I’d like you to carry a stone for Me.” This time Peter said, “Aha! Now I get it!” So he looked around and saw a small boulder. He hoisted it on his back, and it was painful, it made him stagger. But he said, “I can’t wait for supper.” Jesus then said: “Follow Me.”

            He led them on a journey, with Peter barely being able to keep up. Around supper time Jesus led them to the side of a river. He said, “Now everyone throw your stones into the water.” They did. Then he said, “Follow Me,” and began to walk. Peter and the others looked at him dumbfounded. Jesus sighed and said, “Don’t you remember what I asked you to do? Who were you carrying the stone for?”


These Strange Ashes, by Elisabeth Elliot, pg. 132.
(quoted in The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller, pg. 51-52)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

THE PRODIGAL WHO NEVER LEFT


Luke 15:25-30    The older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. “Your brother has come”, he replied, “and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.” The older brother became angry and refused to go in.”


            The parable of the two sons takes an extended look at the soul of the elder brother, and climaxes with a powerful plea for him to change his heart.

Throughout the centuries, when this text is taught in church or religious education programs, the almost exclusive focus has been on how the father freely receives his penitent younger son. The first time I heard the parable, I imagined Jesus’s original listeners’ eyes welling with tears as they heard how God will always love and welcome them, no matter what they’ve done. We sentimentalize this parable if we do that. The targets of this story are not “wayward sinners” but religious people who do everything the Bible requires. Jesus is pleading not so much with immoral outsiders as with moral insiders. He wants to show them their blindness, narrowness, and self-righteousness, and how these things are destroying both their own souls and the lives of the people around them. It is a mistake, then, to think that Jesus tells this story primarily to assure younger brothers of his unconditional love.

            Jesus’s purpose is not to warm our hearts but to shatter our categories. Through this parable Jesus challenges what nearly everyone has ever thought about God, sin, and salvation. His story reveals the destructive self-centeredness of the younger brother, but it also condemns the elder brother’s moralistic life in the strongest terms. Jesus is saying that both the irreligious and the religious are spiritually lost, both life-paths are dead ends, and that every thought the human race has had about how to connect to God has been wrong.



The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller, pg. 9-10.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A HEART


Prov. 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. 


Give me a heart, dear heavenly Father, 
a heart that’s free of all self-will, 
a heart obedient to thy counsel, 
that gladly thy commands fulfills. 

Give me a heart prepared to practice 
true self-denial at any time, 
a heart that loves its enemies, 
assured of glories yet to come. 

Give me a heart of sympathy 
for every person mired in sin, 
that guides them toward the Father’s land, 
embraces them, and takes them in. 

Give me a heart that hankers not 
for worldly pleasures, selfish ends, 
a heart that loves the poor, and so 
forgets itself, a hand to lend. 

Give me a heart that pays no heed 
to threats or scorn or ridicule, 
that keeps faith always with its God, 
though blamed, despised, or called a fool. 

A heart like thine, that lives for God – 
would such a heart be given to me! 
O Jesus, take me and all my gifts: 
I’ll find this heart alone in thee. 

Poem: A Heart, By Eberhard Arnold

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Sailor’s Prayer




 Luke 8:22-25   One  day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
     He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”




The Lord is my Pilot: I shall not drift.
He lights my way across dark waters.
He steers me through the deep channels.
He keeps my log.
He guides me by the star of holiness for His name’s sake.
As I sail through the storms and tempests of life,
I will dread no danger, for you are near me.
Your love and care shelter me.
You prepare a haven before me in the homeland of eternity.
You quiet the waves with oil;
My ship rides calmly.
Surely Sunlight and Starlight will shine wherever I sail,
And at the end of my voyaging,
I shall rest in the port of my God forever.
  
Unknown Author

Friday, May 9, 2014

GUARD YOURSELF


1Timothy 6:20     Guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you.


The TV is my shepherd, I shall not want.
It makes me to lie down on the sofa.
It leads me away from the Scriptures.
It destroys my soul.
It leads me in the paths of sex and violence
For the sponsor’s sake.

Yea, though I walk in the shadow of my own
Christian responsibilities
There will be no interruption;
For the TV is with me.
Its cable and remote-control , they comfort me.

It prepares a commercial before me
In the presence of my worldliness.
It anoints my head with humanism.
My coveting runneth over.

Surely laziness and ignorance shall
Follow me all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house watching TV forever.




By Marcus Carris

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

AWAKENING WITH GOD


Psalm 68:34-35    Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is in the skies. You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!  



I arise today
To witness a mighty strength:
The power that created Heaven,
The power that created the light of the sun,
The power that created the brightness of the moon,
The power that created the splendor of fire,
The power that created flashing lightning,
The power that caused the swiftness of winds,
The power that laid the depths of seas,
The power that founded earth’s stability,
The power that formed all rocks.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength:
            Christ to protect me today
            Against every poison,
            Against burning,
            Against drowning,
            Against deathly wounds,
That I may receive abundant reward.
  
Saint Patrick



The Macmillan Book of Earliest Christian Prayers, By R. Forrester Church & Terrence J. Mulry, pg. 116.

Friday, May 2, 2014

IF YOU NEVER….



Matthew 9:12 Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”


If you never had to pray, how would you know that I am a Deliverer?
If you never had a trial, how could you call yourself an overcomer? 
If you never felt sadness, how would you know that I am a Comforter? 
If you never made a mistake, how would you know that I am a forgiver? 
If you knew all, how would you know that I will answer your questions?
If you never were in trouble, how would you know that I will come to your rescue? 
If you never were broken, then how would you know that I can make you whole? 
If you never had a problem, how would you know that I can solve them? 
If you never had any suffering, then how would you know what I went through? 
If you never went through the fire, then how would you become pure? 
If I gave you all things, how would you appreciate them? 
If I never corrected you, how would you know that I love you? 
If you had all power, then how would you learn to depend on me?
If your life was perfect, then what would you need me for? 


Love,
Jesus 

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